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Matthew Corrente and what he brings to the table is already known by the New Jersey Devils. While he's not expected to make the leap to the next level and stay there, he's done enough that he couldn't kept out of the Top 25 by our writers.
Welcome to the first entry of the In Lou We Trust Top 25 Devils Under 25 list where the player actually has suited up in New Jersey for a few games. Defenseman Matthew Corrente has been in the New Jersey Devils' system since 2006. That's more than enough time for development and a more than a few opportunities at cracking the New Jersey roster through training camps and call ups. Corrente has been around so long, he's practically an AHL veteran with 152 games played at that level. Yet, he's not only in the Top 25, but he's 20th after taking everyone's votes into account. (Note: Height, weight, and stats are from Elite Prospects.)
#20 - Matthew Corrente - D - Height: 6'0" - Weight: 205 lbs. - Age: 24 - 2012-13 Team: Albany (AHL)
Matthew Corrente makes his first - and because he's 24, his last - appearance on the Top 25 at #20. One could easily argue he shouldn't be on it at all. He's had his chances and he hasn't stuck around. He's been to multiple training camps but he never made the NHL team. When he has been called up to play, it's been to replace someone injured and his minutes were limited. He averaged 8:51 in his 12 games in 2009-10 and 13:35 in his 22 games in 2010-11. He hasn't come back and spending all of 2011-12 either hurt or in Albany says it all about where he is on the depth chart.
For the unaware, Corrente is a physical defenseman. He's not too different from Mark Fraser. Corrente is more mobile, enough to a point where Jacques Lemaire actually lined him as a fourth line right winger in two playoff games in 2010. Of course, Corrente is not nearly as big as the former Devil. Like Fraser, Corrente's no stranger to throwing hits, throwing fists, and sitting in a penalty box for better or (usually) worse as a result. He's never been a productive player at any level, so he's either making safe plays in his own end or banging bodies out on the ice.
Unfortunately for Corrente, he's also been banged up quite a bit in his career. He hasn't played a full professional season for one reason or another. He's only played in more than 60 games in his first year of pro hockey with Lowell back in 2008-09. His profile at The Hockey News lists a myriad of injuries, and I'm not sure that's even a complete list. It's hard to get into a groove if you're only able to play in 40 games or so.
However, what has also hurt Corrente's career is his timing. When he got called up to New Jersey, he managed to get hurt. When he got healthy, he was limited when he did play, scratched otherwise. Also, Fraser - who plays like Corrente - was performing at a level that pleased the New Jersey staff at about the same time. So he ended up behind him in the system. The numbers game only pushed Corrente further to the outside from last season. He's been pushed back because physical defensemen who has racked up the PIM count aren't valuable. Between Adam Larsson in the AHL and further improvement from Eric Gelinas, Brandon Burlon, and Alexander Urbom, he could very well end up as a depth defenseman on Albany in this coming season. On another team or even if he was permanently switched to wing to be a fourth line "energy guy," then maybe he'd be in the NHL or at least get a longer look by the coaches.
So, how come he was ranked so high by other writers? Well, namely because he's got experience. It's not a lot of NHL experience, but it's more than most of the players on this list. That's actually a huge advantage. While we can say he never panned out as a player, he at least has made it to that level for a short, limited amount of time. Many prospects cannot say they've even done that. It's arguable that it's being overrated; but getting chances at the top level and not sticking looks better than not even getting a chance. While he's not going to change as a player or get much better at age 24, he's a known quantity and can be used in a depth spot in a pinch. That's also a plus in a way. He signed a two-way deal with the Devils this summer, so should there be a season and the Devils need a physical defender for a game or two, it's not completely impossible to think he gets another look. I think it's really doubtful, but stranger things have happened. Such as Steve Bernier getting a contract in the middle of last season after not making the team out of training camp.
All the same, Corrente's not all that high on the list for the other reasons mentioned. What he brings to the table is limited, he's been passed over in the system and is now behind several other prospective defensemen, and there's no reason to believe he'll get better. He's had his shots and while he's at least had them, it never happened. The injuries never helped. Corrente will turn 25 in this coming season and his time as a prospect will truly, completely be over. He'll likely remain as an AHL veteran, which is what appears to be who he is as a player and what he'll be in the system for at least this season.
Now that you know where we ranked Matthew Corrente, please share your opinion about it in the comments. Do you think we ranked him too high (I expect this), too low (I do not expect this), or in the right area and why? Do you think Corrente will even be among the top six in Albany this season? Is there any scenario where you think he'd come back up to New Jersey? Can he stay healthy and play a majority of the season wherever he does play? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Corrente in the comments. Thank you for reading.